Does Your Dog Like to Jump & Run? Then Try Agility!
Brought to you by the AKC GoodDog! Helpline – the AKC’s 7-day-a-week training support service
By Hilarie Erb, AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer
If you think agility is only for lightning-fast Border Collies, think again. This very popular sport is one that almost any dog (and handler) can enjoy.
Agility is an obstacle course designed for dogs. Dogs leap over jumps, run through tunnels, weave through poles, and climb a-frames and dog walks.
Whether your goal is to compete and earn titles or simply to have fun in the backyard, it’s a sport that helps you build a close bond with your dog. It can be a confidence builder for shy and fearful dogs – many dogs deemed to be lost causes when it came to training have blossomed into agility stars. In the agility arena, it’s just the dog and his owner; there are no other dogs and people to worry about.
To get started, your dog needs a few basic obedience skills: sit, stay, come when called. Then, find a beginning agility class to attend. There are AKC Agility Clubs all over the country where you can learn the sport.
It is important to get some training from experts, even if you don’t plan to compete. Learn how to negotiate potentially scary obstacles like the teeter and dog walk by starting with baby steps. And in the beginning, jumps should only be a few inches high, even if your dog is big and clears the sofa at home with no problem! It’s about getting through the course as a team, not how high your dog can jump. The team that completes the course the fastest and with the fewest mistakes, wins. A good instructor can teach you how to do this safely.
You will learn a lot in class, but you need to practice at home too. It isn’t necessary to buy a ton of expensive equipment — a few affordable basics are all you need and are available at the AKC Shop: Agility Training Equipment.
Check out AKC Agility to learn more about this exciting sport. To find an agility trial event near you, visit Agility Events, but be careful, you might get hooked!
All breeds and mixed breeds are eligible to compete. (They must be registered with AKC, , AKC Canine Partners or PAL Purebred Alternative Listing).
Join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline TODAY at the discount price of $59.99 – $20 off the regular fee. This provides lifetime training support for your dog. No renewals ever necessary.
For more tips and advice on training your dog, join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.